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Are You Talking with Your Teen about Sex?

Are you talking with your teen about sex? You know it’s important, but where do you start? You know your teen is talking about sex with their friends and if they are fortunate to have a grownup they can talk to about sex; they are talking with them, too.  In fact, you may be the only person your teen is NOT talking to about sex. Plus, in your teen’s mind, you are the last person they want to talk with about anything much less sex.

What do you talk with your teen about? Do you and your teen talk about anything? You can’t have The Talk with your teen if you don’t talk with them about ordinary things. If this is you, then start by initiating casual conversations with your teen. Don’t force it, simply comment on something going on and wait for their response. If they don’t respond, get their attention and comment again. If they still don’t respond, be patient. Keep practicing small talk until both of you are initiating these little exchanges. This builds trust.

OK, you’ve practiced small talk with your teen and you are able to have casual conversations about a game, the weather, school or other meaningless topics. Now it’s time to deepen the subject, but how do you initiate a serious conversation about a serious subject with your teen? Start with passion. What is your teen passionate about?

If your teen is passionate about avoiding you and hanging out with their deadbeat friends, then start there. Get to know their deadbeat friends and what they’re into. Talk with them about their passions. Practice talking with teenagers every chance you get.

Make sure to pick the right moment if you are thinking about talking with your teen about sex. Do not approach your teen in the middle of band practice and announce to the class that you want to talk about sex after dinner tonight. Instead simply notice what is going on in their world and take advantage of a private moment where a discussion of sex would be a natural transition.

For example, your 13-year-old son comes storming into the house and announces that girls are bitches. This is a perfect opportunity to talk about sex. Not immediately, but his problem can easily be linked to a serious conversation about relationships and how girls and boys are different when it comes to matters of the heart. Be patient. Be genuinely curious and supportive.

This will be awkward for both of you so acknowledge this awkwardness right away. Speak from your heart and do not say more than half of the words spoken. Your teen already knows a lot about sex, more than you probably want to know. Before you open your big mouth and put your foot into it assess what they know about sex.

How do you find that out? It’s easy. Ask them. Remember, this is a PRIVATE conversation, so ask them privately, if they are sexually active. Your teen may be initially shocked and hesitant to respond, but if you are sincere and loving, they will be grateful privately to have had The Talk. If your teen is not sexually active, breathe a sigh of relief and begin to ask some of the questions below. Most teens are sex-curious.

Ask your teen about relationships? About love? About responsibility? Ask them how they feel about sex and what their concerns are. Ask them about the risks associated with sex. Ask them what is confusing about sex. Ask them any question you like. Teenagers can handle it and if it is too much for them, they will tell you. Don’t ask Yes or No questions because that’s the answer you will get. Ask open ended questions and you will learn much more about your teen.

I can’t stress enough how critical it is to remain calm, collected and curious (The 3 C’s) throughout this process. Take your time, be encouraging and support disclosure. Tell a story from your life that relates, but DO NOT dominate the conversation. Keep the focus on your teen, their feelings, their beliefs, their fears and their heart’s desire.

You can do it. Don’t be afraid and don’t try to be an expert or a friend. You need to know what you are talking about and if you don’t be honest and explore these areas with your teen. The Talk is a mandatory parental responsibility and it is not a once in a lifetime event. If you want to be talking with your teen about sex it means talking with them about everything else that crosses their path.  Master the small stuff and the big stuff will be a snap.

About Ray

I was raised in a small town in Michigan. I was the middle child of 3 boys in a moderately dysfunctional family. I was fortunate to fall into the Hero role hat afforded me the very best that my family could provide. As a hero child, I was the first to go to college. College opened my eyes and my mind. College also turned out to be the bane of my family. To make along story short, at 38 years old and a new social worker, I learned of the dark secrets my family held. The more I reached out to help the family, the more the pushed me away until, I could not longer have contact with any family members. It's been nearly 30 years now. It's just better that way. As a result, I've focused my career on helping families, especially families with teenagers. I've always worked with teens, since I was 19 years-old I've worked with teens as a teacher, counselor, social worker and psychotherapist. I am still passionate about working with teens and their families, but am focused on working with large groups with multiple families in attendance. Part of my desire to accomplish on this website is to create a place for discussion of families, adolescents, their ever present angst. I want to share with parents of teens some of what the wisdom I've gained from 30 years of working with teenagers and their families. Please visit for awhile. Read some articles, make some comments or share a post with your friends or colleagues. I'm at your service.

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